Arts & Culture

Interviews and stories about art, culture, music, books, food / dining and sports.

Big Boi: Tiny Desk Concert

Oct 9, 2018

The energy in the room was buoyant and vibrant from the moment they walked in the door. OutKast star Big Boi, Sleepy Brown of the prolific Atlanta production collective Organized Noize, and their eight-member backing band have been working together for 20-plus years, and their chemistry is instantaneous and undeniable.

My No. 1 album for 2017 was Big Thief's Capacity. In 2016 their album Masterpiece was in my top five. So when I heard that Adrianne Lenker, Big Thief's singer and songwriter, had a new solo record, I was all ears.

The fields and back roads of eastern Arkansas were a crime scene this past summer. State inspectors stopped alongside fields to pick up dying weeds. They tested the liquids in farmers' pesticide sprayers. In many cases, they found evidence that farmers were using a banned pesticide. Dozens of farmers could face thousands of dollars in fines.

Ever since he was a kid, Ketch Secor was obsessed with old-time country music. In fact, he made a career of it by leading the string band Old Crow Medicine Show. Appalachia, the birthplace of the band, has served as a wellspring of knowledge for Secor, and even inspired the musician to write a new children's book, Lorraine.

"That's where this story comes from," Secor says. "This is an Appalachian folktale, with a couple of personal twists."

Three years after his death, my father, virtuoso violinist Roman Totenberg, made headlines all over the world when his beloved Stradivarius violin, stolen 35 years earlier, was recovered by the FBI. The story struck the hearts of so many, I think, because in such turbulent times, it was rare good, even joyful, news. And the mystery of where it had been, was finally solved.

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The Los Angeles Philharmonic's yearlong centennial celebration kicked off at the end of September, with a day-long street festival that spanned eight miles across the city.

Unlabeled stimulants in soft drinks. Formaldehyde in meat and milk. Borax — the stuff used to kill ants! — used as a common food preservative. The American food industry was once a wild and dangerous place for the consumer.

Deborah Blum's new book, The Poison Squad, is a true story about how Dr. Harvey Washington Wiley, named chief chemist of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in 1883, conducted a rather grisly experiment on human volunteers to help make food safer for consumers — and his work still echoes on today.

Taylor Swift is done being apolitical. On Sunday, the pop megastar took to Instagram and endorsed two Democratic candidates up for election in Tennessee.

The ancient Maya might be known for their mathematical aptitude, their accurate calendars, and their impressive temples. But did you know they were also salt entrepreneurs?

During the peak of Maya civilization – from 300 to 900 A.D. — coastal Maya produced salt by boiling brine in pots over fires. The end result was shaped into salt cakes, then paddled by canoe to inland cities and traded at extensive markets.

Warner Bros. Pictures

It’s not too often that the fourth time is the charm. But actor and first time film director Bradley Cooper hopes his version of the classic movie, “A Star Is Born,” is indeed a charm in its fourth version.

"It’s the Hollywood tale that the business just won’t let die," says film contributor Ryan Jay. "It seems to reinvent itself and whenever there's a leading lady, or in this case an up-and-coming leading lady with Gaga, it's a showcase for that talent. It has chops for your acting and for your singing ability."

This episode is a rerun. It originally ran in 2014. We're playing it again because Bill Nordhaus shared the 2018 Nobel Memorial Prize in Economic Science today! We based this episode on one of his papers.

Brock-Kaplan / Milwaukee Magazine

The 2018 Milwaukee Film Festival opens on Oct. 18. This year’s festival marks 10 years in its current incarnation, and the first in which will feature a renovated Oriental Theater as home to Milwaukee Film.

"[The Oriental is] something that a lot of filmmakers who come through the city comment on. A lot of cities don’t have theaters like the Oriental. Milwaukee does — it’s one of the festival’s main selling points," says Milwaukee Magazine Cultural Editor Lindsey Anderson.

Copyright 2018 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.

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